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Check with seller Historic Railroad Seeks Emergency Loans to Avoid Abandonment York

Published date: November 24, 2012
Modified date: November 24, 2012
  • Location: York, Pennsylvania, United States

For immediate release:


After the Surface Transportation Board ruled in favor of an adverse abandonment of the rail line, the Board of Directors of the Stewartstown Railroad are making a plea for interested individuals to help prevent the railroad from being torn up. The 127-year-old company faces the sale of its assets and probable dissolution unless some white knights come in to save the day.

The estate of its former president, George M Hart, has been aggressively pursuing the payment of debts that Mister Hart had originally told the board he would forgive. Efforts to sell the railroad to someone who would be willing to continue operations have not been fruitful. While the railroad owns assets that the estate itself has determined to be in excess of $1 million, they are unable to obtain loans since they do not yet have an income sufficient to pay a loan back. Railroad President Dave Williamson said "It is very frustrating. We are closer to running trains than we have been in years. The roofs on the stations have been worked on, the track is being repaired, the locomotives are nearly serviceable, one of the coaches is being painted, we are operating motor car trains and having open houses on a regular basis for the first time in ages. We have more volunteer support and interested people than ever before. We are just getting some momentum going, and will probably be able to operate full size trains in 2013. We just need some help in avoiding the Sheriff.”

The Surface Transportation Board, a government agency that regulates freight railroads, declared that the railroad could be abandoned to allow for the collection of the debt. Part of the basis for this decision was that the railroad has not hauled freight in 20 years, and they do not consider the public benefits of passenger excursion trains in their review. The decision is effective on December 16. After that time, and once a review of the historical importance of various parts of the railroad is completed, foreclosure could result in scrapping of the line to raise money or auction of its assets. A representative of the railroad indicated that an auction of the railroad was unlikely. "It is in our best interest to sell the assets to pay off the lien prior to a public auction, and then determine whether there is enough left to try to keep going. Selling the railroad at auction isn’t the best way to raise the money.”

A separate organization called The Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad was formed several years ago. It is a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers who hope to see the railroad survive and get back into operation. The Friends have been soliciting donations through a Capital Campaign, which has raised enough money to help the railroad get closer to operating trains again. Volunteers from the Friends have been instrumental in keeping the railroad alive thus far and moving forward. While donations to the Friends are tax-deductible, thus far they have not amounted to enough to make a serious dent in the amount of the debt owed. The Friends continue to encourage donations, and hope to help in resolving the debt issue.

The Board of Directors is looking for assistance from people who would be willing to loan money to the railroad so that it could pay off the debt to the estate. Such loans would be secured by the assets of the railroad. Anyone interested in finding out more about helping save the railroad, or who knows of anyone who might be in a position to help, should contact the railroad directly at ken@stewartstownrailroadcompany.com, or contact them at 410-336-1605



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